May Day: The Leftist Best XI
Beautiful Game, Beautiful Struggle
Today, May 1, is International Workers’ Day, a worldwide holiday to commemorate workers and the labor movement. The holiday has a long history, which I don’t plan to recap here, but here’s a tidbit:
In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions set May 1, 1886, as the target date to standardize the eight-hour workday. As the day approached with no eight-hour standard, U.S. labor unions planned a general strike. Workers across the nation went on strike and attended rallies, singing the anthem Eight Hour: “Eight hours for work. Eight hours for rest. Eight hours for what we will.”
In Chicago, tens of thousands of workers marched down Michigan Avenue, led by anarchist Albert Parsons and his wife Lucy. On May 3, striking workers met at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company plant, which had locked out its workers since the prior February. (The previous year, the workforce had come under attack by Pinkerton thugs.) By May 1886, the plant was staffed by strikebreakers (aka “replacement workers,” aka “scabs”) who were protected by a garrison of 400 police officers. (It’s been said that police officers serve primarily to protect the interests of the capital class, but I’m not going to make that case here. I’m going to let history do it for me.) At the end of the May 3 workday, as the bell sounded, a group of workers confronted the strikebreakers. The police fired on the crowd, killing at least two strikers.
The next day, groups of workers rallied at Haymarket Square for a day-long demonstration. That night, police marched in formation and ordered the rally to disperse. Someone threw a homemade bomb into the path of the police, which killed an officer. Police opened fire, killing four people and wounding dozens of others. It has been suggested that Pinkerton agents stationed in the crowd were responsible for instigating the crowd, in order to give the police cover for the violence.
Anyway, the labor movement ultimately triumphed. Today, your employer can’t require you to work more than an eight-hour workday without paying you overtime.
So this May Day, I could use this space to spend some time discussing the people who fought hard to win rights for all members of the working class, to win victories like ending child labor (ahem), fighting for safe working conditions (for someone, somewhere, I’m sure), and a living wage for all. But I won’t. This a soccer and memes blog. So I’m going to do the dumbest thing I can think of.
I’m going to make a Best XI of prominent leftists.
In 1966, the Soviet Union made the semifinals of the World Cup before crashing to fourth place in successive losses to West Germany and Portugal, led by two all-time greats (Breckenbauer and Eusebio, respectively). They did so playing a unique 4-4-2 formation, pioneered by Dynamo Kiev manager Viktor Maslov, where two wingers drop into the midfield while pressed to give the team a numbers advantage in the midfield. The formation also gave fullbacks attacking responsibilities for the first time, in support of the wide midfielders.
So, for this team, we will have a goalkeeper, four defenders, four midfielders, and two forwards.
Goalkeeper: Lucy Parsons
They don’t call it the “Goalkeepers’ Union” for nothing. Parsons founded the International Workers of the World, so you know she would be good at keeping her team organized, despite the fact that she was an anarchist. Members of her group were known as the “Wobblies,” which indicates to me that she won’t be tricked by shots that have some movement to them.
Left Back: J. Posadas
J. Posadas (born Homero Romulo Cristalli Frasnello) was an Argentine Trotskyist who founded Posadism. Posadas actually was a famous footballer, for Estudiantes de La Plata, in his youth, so you know he can back his rhetoric up with some skill.
As mentioned above, outside backs in the Soviet system were expected to have attacking capabilities, and Posadism fits the bill. Posadas was an enthusiast for nuclear first strike, believing that nuclear war was inevitable so the socialist states might as well attack first. Posadas was also interested in UFOs and space travel, so you know he’s not afraid to cover a lot of distance on the pitch.
Left Center Back: Fidel Castro
Fidel is out stay-at-home center back in this system. After spending decades defending himself against assassination and coup attempts from the United States government and organized crime, you know that he’s not mistake-prone and he’s not going to let any chances through.
But don’t think that he’s all defense. If you know anything about the healthcare system in Cuba, you’ll also know that his distribution is top-notch.
Right Center Back: Josef Stalin
Stalin is the defensive captain, centrally planning the team’s structure and advocating a simple philosophy: Keep yourselves organized, and don’t worry about that the other team is doing.
However, it’s possible to bait him to venturing a little out of his zone and getting out of position, which ultimately could lead to the downfall of the defense.
Right Back: Martin Luther King, Jr.
If you watch Fox News, you’d be forgiven for thinking that MLK was a southern, family values Christian who advocated non-violence and just wanted equal opportunity to share in the American Dream.
Well, he also said this:
In a letter to his then-girlfriend and future-wife Coretta Scott: “I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic.”
In another letter to Coretta, King explained that capitalism “has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes[.] . . . Capitalism has often left a gap of superfluous wealth and abject poverty [and] has created conditions permitting necessities to be taken from the many to give luxurites to the few.”
In an interview to the New York Times in 1968, King said, “In a sense, you could say we are engaged in the class struggle.”
In describing the goal of his movement, King said it was the “total, direct, and immediate abolition of poverty.”
Anyway, King is an ideal right back opposite of the free-moving Posadas. Capable of going on the attack when necessary, but also willing to stay on the defense. Keeps it simple, and willing to put in a shift to serve the greater good.
Left Wing: Leon Trotsky
Trotsky is a pressing left winger, pairing well with Posadas in staying on the attack, looking for a “permanent revolution.” A worker with a high work rate, he’s mainly vulnerable to people getting in behind him – most notably, Spaniards wielding ice axes.
Holding Midfielder: Eugene V. Debs
Debs ran for president from prison, so you know he has experience being effective while maintaining perfect positional discipline.
Box-to-Box Midfielder: Emma Goldman
As an anarchist, Goldman needs the freedom to roam around the field, but you know you’ll have to put up with a few inexplicable decisions a game in exchange for broader effectiveness. She’s also not afraid to commit a professional foul here and there – such as her attempted assassination of industrialist Henry Clay Frick.
Right Winger: Otto Strasser
This one is cheating a little, as Strasser isn’t exactly a “leftist.” Strasser was on the “left wing” of the Nazi party, to the extent such a thing could exist, and he is the founder of Strasserism, which is basically a version of Nazism focused on radical, worker-based action. Strasser and his brother wanted the Nazi party to break “the shackles of finance capital,” a thinly veiled reference to certain stereotypes. But who better to play on the right wing than an actual right winger?
By the way, I don’t really want Strasser on this team, I’m just using him as an excuse to get the word out that Strasserism (or at least a cousin of Strasserism) is in vogue right now in the United States, in the form of the likes of Tucker Carlson, Josh Hawley, and the current right-wing “populist” (but not really populist) vendetta against so-called “woke capital” and “globalism.”
Second Striker: Diego Maradona
The man needs no introduction. The greatest player of all time had Che Guevara tattooed on his arm and Fidel Castro tattooed on his leg. He was good friends with Hugo Chavez. He went to rehab in Cuba in 2000, and he credited the Cuban medical system with saving his life. He played in a charity match in Bolivia in 2008, organized by Evo Morales, in protest against FIFA’s ban on matches played at high altitudes. After he visited the Vatican, he said this:
“I’ve been to the Vatican and seen the gold ceilings. And then I hear the Pope saying that the Church was concerned about poor kids. So? Sell the ceilings, mate!”
If you think Pele was better, you’re either the CIA or Ben Shapiro.
Striker: Ho Chi Minh
Uncle Ho is your classic “fox in the box,” a positional genius with an unequaled tendency to appear in surprising positions. While he’s used to being on the counter-attack, he’s also more than capable of going on the offense first, particularly against ostensibly more powerful opponents. A perfect partner to Maradona’s genius.
So there you have it, a Best XI of leftists both worthy of International Workers’ Day and capable of taking on any team even on its best day.
Should I put together a right-wing team? Nah, I’ll leave that to Chief War Pig (emphasis on “Pig”).